It's slowly starting to get colder round here, but I still think it's still ridiculously mild for mid November. I layered up for an early morning walk round Leam Valley today but just a few hundred yards from the house I began to think I might pass out from the heat (not hot as such, but certainly a good 5/6 centigrade). After a quick adjustment I set off minus one layer, a hat and the gloves, and strolled the mile or so down to the reserve.
I had one bird very much in mind this morning, and found it almost immediately - Redpoll. Three darker birds (Lesser) and one pale, almost frosted bird (Mealy?) were feeding off wiry grasses, surrounded by Blue and Great Tits. Although Redpoll are not uncommon in the winter, I don't see too many of them - indeed these were my first for 2005. Such long and clear views were a real treat.
As I moved along the river I found plenty more to be pleased with - Redwing feeding in the hawthorn trees, a splendid male Bullfinch attacking berries with gusto, Goldcrest hopping frantically through the trees, and a male Reed Bunting - another common but hard-to-find-in-these-parts bird.
The scrape was empty, so I headed across the fields up to Offchurch, the neighbouring village. I found few birds but enjoyed the walk enormously.